It’s been a while… and what I believe.

I’m okay. I’m enjoying my new job, which is providing lots of work, lots of challenge, and is keeping me busy. I did have a little event with a kidney stone last week that’s ongoing (it hasn’t pulled a full Elvis and left the building just yet), but is manageable.

So it’s the holidays, and there are always some stresses of time & travel involved with that. Making it fun this year, I’m single again, plus I’m only about a year into my time in a new city. Which results in a lot of well-meaning folks telling me things I really don’t need, nor want, to hear.

What follows is an editorial. It’s about beliefs, which are close enough to opinion as makes no nevermind. You may not agree. Great! Don’t try to change my mind, just keep making your own decisions. You don’t even need to outline them.

So with some risk, here are just a few things I believe:

I believe religion is not the same as spirituality, and one doesn’t need to follow any particular religion to have faith, nor is following a religion a prerequisite of being a good person. There Is No One Right Way. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something, or looking to line their pockets and/or their power base with your assets. You’ll note that many religious leaders also would prefer that their followers let them do all the thinking for them. Turning off the brain is a living death, not a spiritual awakening. And that whole exclusivity-on-rightness thing, our-way-or-damnation? Ha!

Related to that, I believe one can find friends and support without joining a religion. Having someone willing to bring a casserole by after a Life Event is not exclusive to members of religious groups. I am fortunate in that I have been able to prove this — there are people I know, unaffiliated with any religion, who would drop whatever else they were doing and come to my aid should I need it, and I hope they know I would do the same for them. And that’s not even counting my family, who, I know, would likely cut off parts of their own bodies if it was necessary to save me — as I would without hesitation do for them.

I believe that belief doesn’t contra-indicate facts. Sometimes, a sequence of events happens that, on the surface, appears causal. On closer examination, though, you see that they are indeed coincidental — two things happened in a particular sequence, but the first did not cause the second and the second would have happened even if the first did not happen.

I believe that trying to bludgeon someone into submitting to your dogma when they really have no desire to or intention of doing so is a form of emotional blackmail, if not outright abuse. Yes, that’s right: this whole thing is just a statement, not an invitation to follow me. I may not be going someplace you really wanted to go. And I’m quite alright with that. I most assuredly do not claim any sort of exclusive on what’s right and what isn’t. THERE IS NO ONE RIGHT WAY! Do your own thinking, make your own decisions, follow your own path, and I will cheer you.

I believe that if you are concerned about someone you love’s actions or decisions, snarking at them in a public manner is precisely the wrong way to convey that concern, no matter how much humor it’s cloaked in. Make a phone call. Send an e-mail. Pull them aside for a quiet chat. This is something I’ll readily admit failing in the past, but I have made considerable effort to change my behavior and catch myself. I don’t always succeed, but I do more often than not now. And I appreciate being called on it when I slip.

And I believe that it’s absolutely vital to listen. Not just hear, but listen. There’s a difference.